Monday, April 09, 2007

Religious Beliefs Impact on Severity of Sex Crimes

Religious holidays like Easter Sunday remind me of what is good about having a strong faith, but when people talk about sex crime prevention they often make an assumption that going to church gatherings (or another religious organization of your choice) makes them safer than they would be if they went to secular gathering places.

From my personal experience and from specific criminal cases, I know that attending church doesn't insulate people from sexual criminals. However, I never considered that religious sex offenders might be different from non-religious sex offenders except for their facade of piousness.

From the abstract of the journal article, Religious Affiliations Among Adult Sexual Offenders, by Donna Eshuys and Stephen Smallbone of School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Queensland, 4001, Australia, published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment on Aug. 2, 2006:

ANCOVAs indicated that stayers (those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood) had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than other groups. Results challenge assumptions that religious involvement should, as with other crime, serve to deter sexual offending behavior.
Since the study was done on incarcerated adult male sex offenders, it doesn't measure the rate and type of sexual offending done by those who aren't convicted. Even with the limited scope of the study, it contains important information and reinforces the importance of dealing effectively with sex crime allegations against those who seem to be good people.

I suspect that religious sex offenders use religion-based rationalizations to make their victims deserving of offending behavior. This is why I have a real problem with religious leaders who talk about women and girls luring men into sin. These demands aren't effective crime provention and may in fact increase the risk of sex crimes.

Hat tip:Schwitzsplinters

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:21 PM   0 comments links to this post


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